HARRISBURG – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) voted in favor of an interim state budget today that accounts for the difficult realities of a struggling economy in the infancy of recovering from sweeping business shutdowns that led to the second-highest number of unemployment compensation claims in the country.
“With 2.1 million claims for unemployment compensation due to the most stringent shutdown policies in the nation, this short-term budget reflects our grim reality. We need to focus on the absolute priorities and revisit the state’s financial outlook after the economy has a chance to recover. More importantly, this restores the checks and balances in state government, because we cannot afford to spend money we simply do not have,” she said.
The budget funds most line items for five months in order to give lawmakers more flexibility to respond to the lasting impact of crisis in the months ahead.
“This essentially is a triage budget. Given the circumstances, we cannot accurately predict what state revenues will look like in a month, let alone an entire year,” Phillips-Hill said.
Although most agencies and departments are funded for five months, a few line items are funded for the entire year, including:
- Early education, K-12 education and higher education.
- Pension obligations and debt service.
- Food and nutrition support programs.
In addition, Phillips-Hill supported legislation today to allocate a portion of Pennsylvania’s share of funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide $150 million to help school districts undertake efforts such as deep-cleaning, repairs and retrofitting that are needed to ensure the safety of their students.
The CARES Act funding also was allocated to meet other pressing concerns created by COVID-19, including funding for nursing homes and other long-term living facilities, support for small businesses and employees affected by Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders, resources for providers of intellectual disability and autism services, and funding for county government programs – including broadband deployment.
“The pandemic and the governor’s ongoing shutdown orders have created financial chaos for millions of families throughout the Commonwealth. Today, we begin the process of repairing the damage to our communities and our economy,” Phillips-Hill said. “The new funding provides essential relief to the families, businesses and organizations that have been impacted the most, while reaffirming our shared commitment to protecting both lives and livelihoods.”